Kristen M. Clark

Feedback from axed plan used

for University Village project

By Kristen Daum

The State News


Student input received for the canceled Brody Complex construction project was a factor in recent planning for the University Village redevelopment.


These housing decisions "always come from feedback. To do otherwise would be foolish," said Chuck Gagliano, assistant vice president for Housing and Food Services.


The Brody project, announced in September 2004, involved plans to create a seventh residence hall in the Brody Complex. It was planned to feature apartment-style rooms for 300 students.


But the project was canceled in February because of the high cost associated with the proposed site's location on a floodplain east of Brody Hall, said Angela Brown, director of University Housing and Food Services.


University Village — which currently houses graduate and international students, and their families — will be replaced with 300 luxury undergraduate apartments, as originally planned for the Brody Complex.


The village housing would have been removed at some point within the next few years because of the high maintenance costs no matter what was planned concerning the Brody project, Brown said. No student input was sought before the decision was made to tear down University Village.


Current village residents have until May 31 to vacate.


"Changing the Brody site to the University Village site doesn't change what students want," Gagliano said. "It's the same student population. It's not going to affect anyone else."


Brown said surveys and focus groups were used to seek input on the Brody construction project.


The surveys asked why students chose to live on- or off-campus, and showed that students wanted the convenience and amenities of living on-campus with the privacy of their own space and their own bathroom, Brown said.


"All of this information wasn't new to us, it just confirmed what we knew all along," she said. "Based on that, we took a lot of that information and overlaid it with the University Village project."


The Brody project and the University Village redevelopment were separate housing projects with no connection "except for the potential end result" of undergraduate apartments, Gagliano said.


"First we were looking at Brody, and Brody didn't work out," he said. "At the same time, we were evaluating University Village for structure (and maintenance costs), and we realized pretty quickly those structures had to go."


Because the University Village site opened up, University Housing was able to transfer the student input from the Brody project, Gagliano said.


Students weren't told earlier that their input was being used for the University Village project, because there was no reason to tell them before, Brown said.


In the beginning planning stages for University Village, student government leaders said they were not considered for any student input.


But because of recent meetings with University Housing officials, Residence Halls Association President Kevin Newman said he supports the plan.


"After a while we figured out that the miscommunication was more on the idea of this project has shifted to here, rather than keep students opinions out," Newman said. "Now we are directly involved, I can vouch for the project."

Nov. 23, 2005 • News • Page 1A